NC House overrides budget veto in surprise vote with about half of its members voting

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RALEIGH, N.C. — In an emergency session on Sept. 11, the North Carolina House of Representatives convened and voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the General Assembly’s proposed budget with just over half of the total representatives present and voting.

On Wednesday morning, 64 members of the house were present, which meant there were enough lawmakers to legally hold a vote. With a vote of 55-9, the override passed with all nine Democrats present voting against the measure.

Democrats say the Republicans lied to them and claimed a vote would not take place that morning. Republicans deny that claim.

“It’s dirty politics. Its doing whatever it takes to get a win,” said District 72 Representative Derwin Montgomery. He was on his way to the House when the vote was tallied. “At some point we got to look at what we’re costing ourselves, and I believe that we have folks who are losing faith in the democracy, losing faith in the process, losing faith in our politics.”

Democrat Representative Ashton Clemmons from District 57 was inside the House when the vote was being called. He said, “We didn’t have time to react.”

She explained that on Tuesday the minority chair had been informed by the chair rules that a non-voting session would happen in the morning. She explained how that had become common, even with the budget bill slated on the schedule for 60 days straight.

She said that when Speaker of the House Tim Moore began to call for a vote, her and her democratic colleague tried to stop it.

“They just discounted all of our buttons that we pushed to speak and refused to let any of us speak,” she explained.

House Majority Whip Jon Hardister spoke with FOX8 and said that at no point was anything ever agreed upon regarding a non-vote session.

He said that there was “no official notice to anyone that there would not be votes today.”

He continued by saying that, at any given time, “we can take a vote if we’re in session.”

Overriding the governor’s veto of a Republican budget bill has been something House Republicans have been aiming for since July. However, they have not brought the matter to a vote in 60 days because they simply did not have the votes.

Until Wednesday morning, that is.

“Pretty clear the mathematics, our calculations indicated that we had the votes at that time.” Majority Whip Hardister continued.

He said that he and his republicans colleagues have been trying to find a bi-partisan solution to the bill for months. Specifically finding a common ground on cuts to Medicaid.

“We said to the governor that we’ll have a special session to talk about healthcare access," Hardister said.

Democrats also explained that a call for a recall was asked for, but that Democrats did not have enough votes to do so.

Gov. Roy Cooper addressed the vote in a press conference after speaking at the North Carolina National Guard September 11 Commemoration.

“For a decade, this Republican legislature elected by unconstitutional means has used tricks and bullying to starve our public schools and deny healthcare to half a million working North Carolinians,” Cooper said at the news conference. “They used lies, bribes and illegal districts, because their policies damage our state and can’t pass on their own merit. Today, on the 18th anniversary of 9/11, while the state was honoring first responders, Republicans called a deceptive surprise override of my budget veto.”

House Speaker Tim Moore responder to Cooper, saying that the vote was by the book.

“I’ve made it clear. I’ve said right here from where I am on the floor, everywhere, if I see an opportunity to override this budget, this veto, I was going to take that vote,” Moore said. “Under our rules, we took a vote on the override. It was properly noticed, procedures properly followed and we took the vote. And I think it’s a great day for North Carolina, because we finally are a step closer to having a budget.”

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